New Artspace could come to Mesa

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

MESA, Ariz.-- The City of Mesa is embracing the arts. "It's just waiting and waiting and waiting and it's just going to kaboom," said artist and muralist Lauren Lee.

She says Downtown Mesa is just waiting to explode on the arts scene and a proposed living and work space for artists could be what sparks that big boom.

"I think artists like other artists. They like to be around other artists," said Lee. The City of Mesa is talking with the people from Artspace about bringing a studio/living space to Downtown Mesa. This comes after a study of Valley artists showed support of an affordable living facility.

"Artists contribute a lot back into the communities in which they live and work and when you have a critical mass of artists in a place they begin to change the neighborhood in really positive ways. Everything from the way the street looks to the activities happening around the building to the number of people that come and buy art," said Vice President of Artspace Wendy Holmes.

It would be new construction close to the Mesa Arts Center and the light rail. St. Paul is Artspace's oldest project and it was a turning point for that city.

"The neighborhood has changed in dramatic ways. There's light rail coming in right to the building which opens June 14 of this year, so it's very parallel to Mesa in that way," said Holmes. Artspace in Mesa would have creative business space on the first floor and 50 to 60 units for living.

It would create a synergy with the Mesa Arts Center and growing artist population. "I think having a ton of artists living around here is going to make it a vibrant and awesome place to be," said Holmes. Funding is through public, private and tax credits. Construction could begin on the project next year with residents moving in during 2016.